Monday, November 15, the Fulton County Superior Court struck down Georgia’s six-week abortion ban in the case SisterSong v. Georgia. This ruling means that, effective immediately, there is no longer a six-week abortion ban in Georgia. Pregnant folks in Georgia can now seek legal abortions up to 22 weeks following their last menstrual period.
In 2019, Georgia lawmakers and Gov. Brian Kemp signed HB 481 into law, banning most abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected – as early as six weeks following a pregnant person’s last menstrual cycle. This created extreme barriers to abortion, as many people aren’t even aware that they’re pregnant until after six weeks. Although the ban was passed in 2019, it only went into effect this summer after Roe v. Wade was overturned.
In the SisterSong v. Georgia ruling, Judge Robert McBurney declared that the six-week abortion ban was void ab initio, or void from the start. Under the Georgia State Constitution, any legislation that violates the United States Constitution when it is passed is automatically void. The ruling states that because Roe v. Wade was in effect and pre-viability abortion was protected under the Constitution when HB 481 was enacted, Georgia’s six-week abortion ban violated the United States Constitution at the time of the ban’s passage. This makes the six-week abortion ban automatically void. Effective immediately, abortion providers in Georgia can begin providing full services to pregnant folks across the state.
The court did not rule on the question of whether the abortion ban violates the Georgia Constitution’s rights to privacy, liberty, and equal protection by forcing pregnant folks to carry to term. Judge McBurney also clarified that the ruling does not bar Georgia from passing a new six-week abortion ban if it is re-enacted by the state Legislature. Because of this, we should prepare for the potential re-introduction of another abortion ban this upcoming legislative session. The state is also appealing the decision to the Supreme Court of Georgia.
SPARK celebrates this historic moment for Georgians in the fight for reproductive justice and bodily autonomy. We also recognize that the fight is not over in Georgia, and will continue to support abortion justice in our state.
To help in the fight for reproductive justice, we encourage everyone to post on social media and talk with folks in your community to help spread the word that abortion after six weeks is once again legal in Georgia!